Aruba was on my radar to do over the next 1-2yrs, especially with Southwest flying there. But it turns out not from Austin, so there STILL didn't seem to be any good routes. In early December a work e-mail
came out saying we had January 2nd off- should I sit around for a 4 day weekend, or go somewhere? Doing some quick research, it turned out there was a Delta flight that made sense, AND I could use miles for it at
good value (65k miles vs $1300). Done.
Honestly having been in 2014 to
Palau and very recently The Seychelles, two exotic beach trips that had long been on my radar, I wasn't too excited about Aruba. More just something to do. I did know it had a reputation
for repeat visitors though, and one of their tourist board sayings is, "You go, You know." Now that I have been, I get it.
It is pleasant and easy.
Safe, easy to get to (well, from the east coast anyway), people are genuinely nice, great beaches, English speaking, use US currency...Perhaps the biggest differentiator though, and
I have been to every major island in the Caribbean except for a handful, may be that the constant breeze and low humidity make it never seem hot and keep almost all the bugs away. I didn't sweat much and it never felt muggy.
I could see me visiting again, especially if I get old and can still afford it.
They readily accept US currency
1 USD = 19.6 ETB
.05 USD = 1 ETB
Most of the citizens here speak at least four languages.
Tourism is the largest industry and I was told it is 90% Americans, although while I was here there were planty of people from Latin America here for the holiday. And of course a fair amount of Dutch tourists and Dutch
Delta - 65k miles & $76, upgraded to first class
#1984 AUS 6:30am to Atlanta 9:37am
#655 ATL 10:33am to Aruba 3:25pm
Carpaccio of Black Angus beef, beef tartar, poached egg, pine nuts, old aged parmesan and truffle mayonnaise- excellent.
Spinach ravioli with scallions, Mini pakchoy and black truffle sauce- it was just ok.
Yemanja Woodfired Grill- dinner, Oranjestad- not open on the 1st, walk in for bar seating
Viator $107- Aruba off-road island tour including Natural Pool and Baby Beach
"Visit two of Aruba’s top natural attractions — the Natural Pool and Baby Beach — on this off-road adventure tour, a unique tour on Aruba that includes both sites. Drive or ride across the island’s rugged terrain
in a specially designed Land Rover, stopping by landmarks like California Lighthouse and the Natural Bridge. Then enjoy free time at the Natural Pool and Baby Beach to snorkel, swim and take in their unique beauty.
Lunch is included."
Your Aruba adventure starts with hotel pickup in the morning for the ride to the tour operator’s base, where you’ll meet your guide for a quick safety briefing before taking off in a caravan of Land Rovers
specially designed to navigate Aruba’s rugged terrain.
Hop in the passenger seat of your 4-person 4x4, or take the wheel if you feel like driving. Either way, you’ll enjoy a comfortable ride with the Land Rover’s extra-cushioned seats.
Tour the island’s natural and historical attractions, stopping along the way to take photos and listen to commentary from your guide. Sites visited include California Lighthouse on Aruba’s northern end, the Gold Mill
Ruins where you can see remains of the island’s gold-prospecting days and the ruins of the Natural Bridge, a limestone bridge on the northeast coast that collapsed in 2005.
There was a family from Venezuela and a Japanese family that lives in NYC on my vehicle.
Our Lady of Alto Visto Chapel
Gold mill ruins
Lunch at the
Waka Waka Adventure Cafe and Cantina- here you see the local beer.
"This crescent-shaped stretch of shoreline is known for its calm, shallow, kid-friendly waters, hence its name.
You have another 60 to 90 minutes of free time here to relax; snorkeling gear is provided if you feel like exploring the marine life."
"When you reach Arikok National Park, a protected preserve that takes up almost one-fifth of the island, get ready for a fun, bumpy, off-road ride through the park to the Natural Pool — aka conchi — a swimming spot formed
by volcanic rock that sits right on the coast. Inaccessible by regular vehicles, the Natural Pool provides the feeling of ‘discovering’ a piece of the island that many visitors don’t make the effort to see.
Put on the provided snorkeling gear and jump in the water to check out the colorful fish and coral. You can also cool off with provided drinks during your 60 to 90 minutes of free time here."
Turns out it was too windy and dangerous for us to go in, so we just walked down to it and looked around for 15 minutes. Honestly it was already about 4:30 with us getting close to sunset- no way in hell you want to be driving
out of that place after dark.
We arrive at Natural Pool.
Sunset back at the hotel.
Had a leisurely start to this morning, had an excellent breakfast at this spot next to one of the hotel pools.
Looking up, I see why the iguana is a symbol on many of the tourist items for Aruba.
Take bus south: Mangel Halto Beach- snorkel in mangroves to look for seahorses
Afternoon- walked north from my hotel at
Druif Beach, then Divi Beach, then Manchebo
All the way to the top of Eagle Beach.
This area has the "low rise" hotels, wider beaches, and also the beaches easily accessable to the public.
Viator $45- Aruba Pub Crawl
8:30pm, hotel pick up 30-60min before
"Hop aboard an open-air party bus and head to Aruba’s best bars for a Caribbean-style night out! Your colorful coach will pick you up at your hotel and stop at four local watering holes for an evening of island fun
and entertainment. Get the most of Aruba’s nightlife with a complimentary shot at each stop, including drinks at special prices throughout your pub crawl. Upgrade your tour to include a beachside Champagne toast, followed
by dinner under the stars.
You’ll make new friends and learn local dances as you experience the best nightlife of Aruba on this pub crawl – rated the #1 favorite Aruba tour by 'E’ Entertainment TV!
Upon hotel pickup, join a fleet of colorful, open-air party buses that takes you into the countryside and down to the city for a true island experience at three great local bars. Have a blast on your nightlife
adventure with a complimentary welcome shot at each stop, and enjoy all other drinks at local prices.
Hop aboard the wacky bus and learn the island rhythms along the way for a whirlwind of foot-stomping fun on wheels you won’t soon forget!"
Take bus north to Palm Beach and check out this area with the "high rise" hotels, narrower more crowded beaches, with more people watching as well.
#654 Aruba 4:25pm to Atlanta 7:43pm
We sat on the plane for about 2hrs due to congestion problems from the Curacao air tower, figured I was going to miss my connection.
#1837 ATL 10:09pm to AUS 11:49pm
Thankfully I was just able to make it.